Corn and Tomatoes: Traditional and Container Gardening

This will be the fourth year that The Kid and I have attempted gardening. The first year was pumpkins in the ground in the backyard. I think we actually got one little pumpkin. The next year, we bolstered the ground with Miracle-Gro and made an attempt at watermelons. We had tons of flowers but not a single melon! The Kid was seriously bummed.

At the same time, I planted my first strawberry plants in the area under the ‘martini deck’ that hangs off the master bedroom… it gets great moisture and gets great morning sun and then is shaded from the afternoon heat. The second year saw more berries but I knew that it was going to take at least two years to get really established plants and fruit. I lost some of the peripheral plants and want to add some starts, but first need to re-plant some from the back to the front and make a pathway to get around the two back sides against the house. The ground has been so wet that stepping in between the plants has caused my feet to sink low enough in the soil to completely cover my feet and shoes!

Last year, The Kid went back to pumpkins and we did keep a lot more of the vines, but still only three pumpkins. And those were about the size of grapefruit! I don’t know what we’re doing wrong, but we’ve opted to switch to sweet corn in the garden this year. We dumped almost 40 gallons of compost into a large hole and then covered it – once again – with Miracle-Gro soil. Its been a wet spring so we started the corn inside. It is about to overtake its current containers, so I hope that things dry out a bit.

2015-05-12 21.10.52So The Kid is growing the corn, so I opted for tomatoes. After spending the better part of two afternoons weeding my strawberry patch, my knees are screaming! So, I have decided to grow my tomatoes on the back deck in containers. This should help the strain on the knees – damn getting old sucks!

I have a great idea on how to do this container growing without laying out a ton of money. The tomatoes will grown in 5 gallon buckets, gotten for free! Yes, FREE!

I stumbled onto a site that talked about getting these buckets free, so I decided to see just how true it actually was. So, I spent a few hours today trying to wrangle buckets.

My first stop was Panera Bread. They were able to give me 3 5-gallon buckets, they were indeed pickle buckets. They are soaking now to help reduce the pickle smell (I personally do not like pickles!). A second Panera later in the day resulted in being told that we could dumpster dive for them. Not sure I want them that badly.

Then on to Burger King – they said they normally just throw them in the dumpster, but would stack them next to the dumpster and I could come by periodically and pick them up. The manager I was talking with said she would love some tomatoes – wink wink. I will definitely bring her some if I am successful and actually do pick up some buckets from her store.

Next was KFC, McDonald’s and Subway. All of them say they no longer get the buckets, either the food is delivered in different containers or no containers at all. HyVee Bakery (food store) said they didn’t have any but a second HyVee bakery turned up a single frosting bucket that was square and maybe 3 gallons in size. Wendy’s manager was no where to be found but the cashier said they had buckets and they go into the dumpster in the morning when prep is done. I may pop back over there at another time and actually track down the manager. I eat at Wendy’s a lot, so hopefully it will be successful in the future.

I figure that I will grow two plants per bucket and line them up, side by side. On either end I will have another bucket, this one filled with either stone or cement with a 2×2 in the middle. And then I will place screws or eye hooks in the posts and run twine or other thick line back and forth between the posts to create a kind of ‘fence’ which I can then use to support the branches of the plants.

 My doodle of the setup:
photo
 This initially stemmed from the fact that I could easily lay out a hundred dollars for pots and tomato cages… and there is no guarantee that I will get any fruit! Plus, this seems like a more challenging path to take.
2015-05-17 12.26.01
I hope we can get everything we need to get the plants into dirt. They seem to grow like crazy in the house!

About MacCupcake

Obviously, a big Mac fan (my first Mac was the first Mac) and mother to the most awesome kid in the world. A techno-junkie and self-proclaimed geek... I love anything and everything relating to computers. Also love making things and figuring out how to make or adapt existing stuff into something new! Always ready to try something new!

2 responses to “Corn and Tomatoes: Traditional and Container Gardening

  1. Even with the buckets etc. you still have to buy dirt so I don’t blame you for trying to keep things as economical as possible! Here we can get compost from our garbage? company. They keep all of the yard waste etc and compost it. Then they sell the compost for around $13 a cubic yard which is a real bargain when you need a lot of soil.

    • We actually create compost ourselves on the back deck. Two large 25 gallon barrels and two smaller – 20 gallon (I think) and we collected and rotated contents weekly. The two large were dumped into holes dug in the garden and then covered with the Miracle-Gro soil. I think the two smaller should just about work for the 5 or 6 5-gallon buckets. I will have to do a quick check around town to see if composted soil is available. I have recently just with both feet into reducing our plastic use and reusing and recycling. And if I save money in the process – AWESOME!

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